Sunday, March 22, 2009

Legislation DIFF'ing

I'm interested in building an application to view diff's of legislation as they roll their way through the congress, and as they're amended over time. Recently the AIG bonus issue brought light to did so and so modify language that had been previously accepted so that some frankenstein loophole could be allowed. Well, computer programmers have very great tools for this. Its called diff. and there are some very nice gui's that have been built that makes one love to do version control.

Anyways, as new legislation comes out that modifies existing legislation.

Its very much a technical challenge just to comprehend what is being stated. Its like trying to understand the USA PATRIOT ACT. Sure it very much enhances our abilities as a nation, but I don't think that I as the guy in the control room trying to implement all the new features would be able to read the document.

Therefore, I am interested in piloting a project that takes these bills and tries to view them in a diff-like fashion.

For the uninitiated, diff is short for difference.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is The Church and The Pope racist?

The Pope on a recent visit to Africa has denounced the use of condoms. I would have to argue that there are many parts of Africa deeply affected by AIDS and HIV, and the goal should be to do anything that increases the percentage of the population that is not infected. Even if you're speaking to people with all the infrastructure necessary to follow your message, the youth of the developed world, the message of abstinence only, is less effective at getting through than the message of condom use[1]. My additional reason for this is that those who aren't getting the condoms are a good idea message, are even less likely to get the idea that sex is bad.

Therefore, assuming abstinence-only prevents the spread of the infection by 100%, less than 100% of the people will listen, thus the effectiveness of abstinence-only is only as effective as the percent of those who follow through with that message. The pope (or some cardinal) also said that condom use, as a means to reduce the spread of disease will be effective 87% of the time. Assuming 87% of people follow that advice, at a success rate of 87%, you have a blanket 75% of people who are now immunized against the infection. If 3/4 of the population follows through with the abstinence-only philosophy (which is a mighty high number), then you have a 75% protection from infection. If you count the 87 - 75 = 12% of people who agree with the condom message but don't agree with the abstinence message, then you have a bonus 12% * .87 = 10.4% of people who might also be protected from infection. So in my view abstinence-only education only leaves people vulnerable to infection.

According to US law, knowingly infection someone with the AIDS virus is a federal crime, perhaps somewhat equivalently, knowingly choosing a suboptimal strategy leaves you responsible for gap between effectiveness of the two strategies, therefore, by promoting a suboptimal strategy, the church, and the pope do not have a clean conscience when it comes to the best interests of their fellow man.

[1] D. Kirby, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, at 88 (May 2001) ("[T]here do not currently exist any abstinence-only programs with reasonably strong evidence that they actually delay the initiation of sex or reduce its frequency").

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stimulating Innovation of the Internet

Very shortly I will be canceling my Yahoo Account. It is not out of anger, or a direct response to some grievous error on their part, but rather, I'm making my stand to make the internet a better place.

As is competition, Yahoo has sadly lost the race on the internet frontier. I would declare them to be a stale-growth company, that is of the type that performs a spelling correction update cycle, as opposed to the create market leading applications or services growth and risks.

So to congratulate the internet on being as advanced as it is, I will officially close up my Yahoo account, thus signaling the practical death of Yahoo, it was central to the internet at the millennium, but now will likely live on as an AOL. A name with no certain future.

(As for grievous errors, they have struck me with their launchcast radio which I paid for, and it was the first time I was bitten by the auto-renewal bug. And most recently, Yahoo Domain / small business is certainly doomed to dissolve, as their domain registrar has raised the fee for a domain name to include a profit of 350%, or so.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Yahoo Fees: Part Duex

I thought I was upset with Yahoo's $3 skimming off the top last year. They've certainly redoubled their effort to achieve profitability. However, this severe a move is one that actually requires action. It might not be worth (an inefficient) half hour to transfer to a new host to save $3, but now, this is $25 bucks..